While most of parent agrees that home computer is a gadget they need to own at home, but when it comes to “Ipad” or “Tab”, some will be still hesitate whether or not it is necessary to have one for their kids. Fair enough, new technology, new concept - better be cautious than sorry, right? In this article I will try to show you that it is important and probably imperative that you should have one at home. Why? Keep on reading….
Tablet in a SnapThe technical term is “tablet“, which simplistically defined as portable computer with touch screen. The idea has been around as early as 1970s on sci-fi movies. Some companies , for example Microsoft, already tried to market tablet even around 2000, without success. But everything change when Apple’s Ipad launched in 2010. With simple operation and beautiful design, Steve Job’s vision become house-hold item like never before. And as usual, other company then “copy” the idea to sell their own version of tablet.
For your general understanding, just think a tablet as “simple portable computer”
Apple’s Ipad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab are the most successful one and probably the best – the rest still need to do a lot of catch up. So, if you consider to have one, choose no other than these twos.
Why It is Important For Your Children
- Games….. : oh no, my children already play too much games…
Yes, they will play games mostly. A lot of good free games out there. But beside that intuitive skill, logic, creative or reflects induced by a game, they will learn unique “skill” only available on tablet, for example: tapping, swiping, touch-hold and drag, pinching,etc. You will need to limit their access on playing the games, though…
- Book reader: you can buy any kind of book to read. Learning book, story book, magazine, etc – you name it, it is available for much less cost than printed book . With added advantage: easier portability. Imagine bringing 100 books, 100 magazine and 100 novels all in less than 1kg.
Yes, most kids will not be addicted to book without being “enticed” – You need to help them by reading it every night from the tablet: a story, academic topic or otherwise.
- Portable encyclopedia
Teach your children how to do Google search. it’s like having Encyclopedia Britannica on their hand anytime they need. This skill is very crucial skill in this information age. teaching them as early as possible is precious.
- Multimedia player: movie, songs, audio.
Yes, beside you can use it as normal DVD player , the biggest advantage of having a tablet is its ability to do interactive learning with video and animation.
This capability is beyond your imagination. I envy all the kids of today that I did not have this kind of technology when I was a kid.
- Try to explain to them how a solar system works: revolution, rotation, etc. Not easy. Buy this magic book/apps called “Solar System” – it is just that: magic.
- Or how about learning human bone where you can rotate, zoom in, zoom out a 3D model to learn the structure and the name. Even you have a physical 3D model it’s not as clear as it is on tablet.
- For younger children: all those flash card (and songs) about alphabet, tracing letter, learning about color. All possible in one little gadget.
- And this is also huge: personal learning from the best teacher in the world for your children.
Can you afford to pay even just normal teacher to personally teach your children about literally any subject they want to know or should to know? I am talking the like of Khan Academy. From algebra, history, calculus, economics, chemistry, physics, statistics, art, etc thousands of 10 minutes video explain by a teacher in interactive way on very specifics subject (just like what happen in a classroom): privately on your kids’ hand and they can repeat that over and over at their pace. All for free?
Another example is to learn physics with this youtube channel: MinutesPhysics. or CGPGrey . or even Ted education.
This model of learning is really successful – even universities, colleges and all kind education will follow this step at no time. The “classic” model is that a teacher will repeat all the same content to every class every single year/term – why don’t just record the best version and play it for them? The teacher can concentrate on more custom support than delivering the material lecture over and over.
Actually, just (5) point above should be enough to justify that the benefit is unlimited.
Hang-on, why just they do it in front of PC. Well, yes it can – but the main reason is that you want to make the learning experience fun. You can do it on the sofa, on the kitchen table, in the middle of picnic, or even while sitting in the toilet (!)
You Should Have One, At Least For Your Kids
- It’s Not that Expensive…
You might think you need to have $500 – $800 up front. Well, not necessarily. A lot of telecommunication provider offer Ipad as “bundle” package. In Australia for about $50 per month, you got brand new Ipad with SIM card to access about 1-2 GB per month (all included). Think that as “installment” payment. Yes, extra $600 is quite steep, but managing extra $50 per month for all the advantages above is not that difficult, right?
Some will argue maybe you do not need a data plan (buy the one with wifi only – no 3G/4G capability): in my opinion, if you do not have data plan you remove the portability aspect of a tablet. Imagine a holiday trip, you just bring an Ipad and you can follow news, browse internet, etc without going to internet cafe while your children got their game console with them.
- What about “maintenance cost”
Beside the data plan mention above, there are mainly 2 “maintenance cost”:
1. The electricity to “recharge” the device
2. Budget to buy good application (app), book, or movie.
No (a) is quite negligible. As for no (2), think like you will need to buy book or some movie anyway – but with this actually you got much cheaper.
- A head start for your kids. School and Government around the world is trialing tablet for inside classroom education. Sooner or later, more and more school will use the tablet. When that time come, if your kids already getting used to it, it’s no big deal while other kids will be overwhelmed by it.
Note for Parent
With the intention that the tablet you have will be mainly for children, there are some important points that you should pay attention to:
- Do not try to “replace” your PC or laptop with this Ipad.
For example: do not set your main email , especially business email on it. The tablet is “simple computer” and not designed for multi user. Hence, when kids playing around with the tablet, you surely do not want them to accidentally delete important email or worst, accidentally sending some non-sense emails to your boss or important client. If you really need one for yourself for its portability, get a good smartphone (Blackberry or iphone, for example) or just buy another one exclusive for you.
Also in this category, no need to install all those spreadsheet, word processing, and all other fancy software on it
- Never ever told your children your “Itunes”/”Appstore” password (for Galaxy Tab, your email account password for “Market” apps)
They should not be able to buy any software purchase accidentally or even when they want to.
- Always set password/passcode to unlock the screen. Teach your kids not to give the password to anyone.
- Do not store any personal information, especially finance information inside. e.g: you found nice “budget apps” and start putting your on it. Or netbanking software that remember the password, etc.
- A must have apps is the one tracking the usage of your 3G/4G data allowance. This is to prevent nasty surprice on your next billing cycle
- The only “compulsory” accessory is the screen protector – the rest is optional.
I hope my opinion above can be some input for your consideration. It is getting cheaper and cheaper to have a tablet for your children. the upside is unlimited. The cost is manageable and the side effect, your part of those who use technology to their advantage. So, why not?